Kitchen renovation

November 22, 2010

What do you love about your kitchen?

When I bought my house, I did some cosmetic updates to the kitchen thinking I'd do a complete overhaul in five years or so.  A fresh coat of paint, new appliances to replace the circa 1966 rusted-out avocado ones, and a new ceiling to replace the drop-tile ceiling and flickering fluorescent light.

Twelve years later, I'm still puttering around and cooking in a cramped kitchen with chipped countertops, circa 1973 floor linoleum, electrical circuits that make the coffee grinder whirr when you're using the mixer halfway across the room, windows that don't stay on their tracks unless they're locked, and a pantry door that falls off if you don't hold it just so when you open it.

So, I've begun budgeting and saving for a kitchen renovation.  I've been tearing pages out of magazines, collecting paint samples, and researching appliances and layouts.  My contractor came over to take measurements and give me some estimates and budget ranges (>gulp<). I'm taking all the advice I can get, because while I think I know what I want in a kitchen, my plans continue to evolve when I get ideas from other people.

I asked my Twitter friends to tell me what they love (or loathe) about their own kitchens, and here's what they said:

michaelnatkin:  I want two flush holes in the counter right next to my board, one for compost, one for trash, with continuous bag system below

hana_duel: LOVE deep sink, granite counters; WANT more light, pull-out drawers instead of cabinets, instant-hot tea-temp filtered tap H2O
sscoffee: hardwood for us. Things break on cement. 

sixy: I love the many-shelved corner pantry I can stand inside. So much to see, so much to eat. It's also the best place to hide

MarriedWDinner: had slate floors in a kitchen once -- never again will I have stone or something like it (backaches galore). Wood or cork from now on. this time around, we went for wood because we could find info about how cork stood up to dog toenails :)

MarriedWDinner: agree with @joylian - the pull-out deep drawers are awesome. also love the pull-out recycling/trash/compost sorter.

Ahaley: a giant sink & plenty of counter/storage space! We love our commercial sprayer as well! A great bar/seating for guests too.

capshockeygrl28: love granite tops can save money by buying it in squares instead of one piece also wish we had splurged on those touch faucets

capshockeygrl28: stained cement rocks

Morineko: Just put in a composite pseudo-slate tile in my kitchen thats really nice. Also <3 good undercabinet lighting & slightly higher cabinets so 6qt mixer can fit under cabinets. Corian counters and sink is nice too - smooth joint = no gunk

BAnnamama: I have small ceramic tiles on some counters - hate it! Dealing with grout is a pain. I love the hardwood floors, dbl ovens. 

fkhatibloo: Don't know if anyone mentioned cork flooring, but it's amazing stuff. I can't overstate the difference on knees, back.

bonniebenwick: And a counter-inset knife holder, (10 slots+) where knives are vertical, handles up.

aliceqfoodie: we have rough stone tiles and I HATE them. They are never, ever clean.

DCBrit: warming drawer and double oven?

mollymayhem: Wishes: MORE LIGHT! More counters, dishwasher, window over sink w/deep sill to grow herbs, bookshelf for cookbooks.

aliceqfoodie: wood is pretty but can't get wet. I want those painted french cement tiles, like at Bouchon.

aliceqfoodie: I wish I had marble counters and pull out shelves in cabinets. I also like cooktop/wall oven vs. range.

nhallfreelance: pot filler behind range; pot sink for dishes/prep sink for food; composting setup; lotsa nat light; open to living spaces.

heidi_robb: Wish I had a wall oven (electric), a stock pot filler. Anything that eliminates bending/lifting heavy items from low 2 high.

jwscoop: i put cork in my kitchen and it helped my back pain issues. tho it is scratched up now (from our cats). but i don't care

Deaners82: Love my big farmhouse sink and hardwood flrs. Wish I had a bigger pantry.

bonniebenwick: 2 snaps up: a toekick pedal for the sink/faucet, like hospitals use. An oven on wheels w/ French doors (see new Bluestar).

SaltySpoon: skip the painted cement unless you wear shoes every time you cook. Mega hard surfaces = murder in your back (stone tiles here)

samandholly2: love lots of plugs, loathe small cupboards and drawers

mraynal: painted cement would look cool but might cause aches/pains over time.

nhallfreelance: think of your feet, though. Cement would look rad, kill yr feet. A friend recently got cork and loves it. Beauty and comfort.

cj_wong: flooring definitely hardwood, but I have extra advantage of living in vintage Craftsman w/ribbon inlay. I love the faucet next to the stove to fill large pot & pulley lights over deep sink- softer, focused light.

hillaryhoffman: last thing, keep in mind water, that was my problem w/hardwood kitchen floor, cleaning it & keeping a finish, managing spills.

jamaila: we want to put in slate tile when we do our redo next year. only downside is it has to be resealed occasionally.

kristinagill: + 1 indestructable surface in 1 counter area, the rest laminate bc inexpensive can replace often. Floors not porous few joints

heidi_robb: If you love the look of cement, incorporate somewhere in a countertop, but not all.

hillaryhoffman: Keep in mind anything dropped on cement or hard tile will likely shatter. Same in heavy cast-iron sinks.

rscholtz: Love having lots of cabinet and counter space, wish I had a better vent hood and room to hang pots and pans.

kristinagill: above cabinets. Need a stronger extractor hood vented to outside also. I need function over beauty: easy to clean backsplash+

hillaryhoffman: Orig. wanted cork but our floor slants. Ended up w/high-quality vinyl that's padded, looks like tile. Not shiny.

heidi_robb: No, no cement! Pretty but will wreck your back. Hardwood, bamboo.

kristinagill: kitchen is abt 7.5'x11', stuff on 3 walls. 4th wall is window+ext door+radiator. Nothing is useless but havnt maximised wall

emptychampagne: either. as long as its heated.

celiacteen: I love that most of our cupboards have pull out drawers, so you can easily get things at the back, front and sides.

kristinagill: I miss uninterrupted counter space, easy wall access to everyday items (not on counter), adeq storage for storage items+bottle

hillaryhoffman: w/older pipes garbage disposal useless. Wish I had dedicated flat sheet pan/rack storage & would like to hang pots. Pegboard?

phstephen: a butcher block a great thing to have

MarriedWDinner: also wish we'd spent time figuring out how to get outlets hidden from camera angle & chosen more-neutral lighting for photos

hillaryhoffman: Love our diverse lighting and dedicated large chopping block. Love our deep stainless 2-part sink. Wish we had more outlets.

MarriedWDinner: love our deep/wide sink, honed slate counters; wish we'd spent the extra cash for an external exhaust blower (hate fan noise!)

lisalaudato: love my giant spice drawer and pot/pan drawers. seven ft center island is wonderful, too!

DGMarge: Also wish I had a hot water dispenser. And love my new french door fridge too.

DGMarge: LOVE my wall mounted oven. Baking at eye-level! Go with a 30", double if you have space. I only have 24" and it is too small.

nhallfreelance: storage, considered from cook's perspective. Low-boy, perhaps? Stove shelf for pans, plate heating. Hate low reach for broiler

SaltySpoon: love ample, open counterspace. Loathe: lack of proper pantry. Want: sink w/foot control for H2o (like surgeons use to scrub)

annrafalko: I would give me left pinkie for at least two sinks. Yes, *at least*. I could see myself going to three. Honestly. I love sinks.

doriegreenspan: Love my big kitchen sink - it's long and very deep.

So, it's Thanksgiving week... and I imagine that many of you will spend quite a bit of time in your kitchen, or someone else's kitchen over the next few days.  So, I'd like to ask a favor: will you let me know in the comments what you love about your kitchen?  What you wish you had?  What bugs you the most?  I want to hear what you love and loathe about floors, storage, appliances, countertops, cabinet depth, lighting... anything and everything.

Thanks so much.  I really, really appreciate it.

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´╗┐If you're stuck at work over the next few days with not a lot to do, here's a link to the Harvard "Science and Cooking" lecture series.  Chef Achatz's lecture -- "Reinventing Food Texture and Flavor" -- is here.

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Oh, and I'm getting ready to kick off my fourth annual Share Our Strength fundraising campaign.  Details coming soon.

Happy Thanksgiving...

Alinea Book


  • I'm cooking my way through the Alinea Cookbook. Because I can. I think.


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